New Deckchair for the Titanic: Ex-BBC, NYT Tapped to Lead Poisonous CNN

August 31st, 2023 11:44 AM

Publicly revealed on Wednesday, WarnerBros. Discovery tapped former BBC Director-General and former CEO/president of The New York Times Company to lead CNN as it continues to struggle not only with ratings, but improving its image from the days of the Jeffrey Zucker-led circus that lived for spewing venom at Donald Trump and the GOP writ large.

Word had leaked out Tuesday night, thanks to Puck “partner” (and former CNN media reporter) Dylan Byers, who gushed that the man “with a reputation for restructuring legacy media assets and pursuing innovative growth strategies” will look to fix the “disastrous thirteen-month run” caused by Chris Licht (when it was arguably due to much of the blood-thirsty workforce out to avenge their Dear Leader Zucker’s ouster).

Byers further swooned that Thompson “deftly architected a plan that rescued” The Times and swooned about allegedly why the pick was made:

[T]he executives inside WBD even seemed to articulate a surprising appreciation for what Jeff Zucker had accomplished during his historic tenure atop the business—realizing, albeit too late, that he’d brilliantly managed a culturally essential, complex, ego-filled EBITDA machine.

In a story at the said paper, former Times executive editor Dean Baquet praised CNN for making “the perfect hire” of someone who “understands change” and will feel “very comfortable.” For his part, Thompson reportedly said in a note to CNN employees that he’s optimistic about CNN given its “great brand and the strength of its journalism.”

If you haven’t laughed at yet at all this, this is your cue to do so.

A trip through the NewsBusters archives brought up some interesting findings. Shortly after he left the BBC (which ran from 1979 as an entry-level staffer until his departure as top boss in 2012), it came to light that longtime personality Jimmy Savile had sexually abused hundreds of people (including underage children and while on the job) with allegations people at the network knew and covered it up.

Thompson insisted he had no knowledge of Savile’s behavior and was also not involved in the network’s spiking of an investigation into Savile that was set to air in October 2011 on BBC’s flagship news magazine, Newsnight.

Then-Times public editor Margaret Sullivan wrote about her concerns in October 2012 and, a month later, our Brent Bozell and Tim Graham opined on the media double standard brushing off the Savile scandal but applying full force to the Catholic Church (click “expand”):

Mark Thompson, a former director-general of the British Broadcasting Corporation,  began his new job Monday as president and CEO of The New York Times. The lack of embarrassment was remarkable. Thompson claimed he was the worst kind of ignorant buffoon, knowing nothing about the massive sex-abuse scandal – and then its censorship – that’s rocking the BBC.

Scotland Yard has been conducting a criminal investigation into allegations of child sex abuse by the late disc jockey and TV personality Jimmy Savile over six decades, describing him as a "predatory sex offender.” In mid-October, the metropolitian police stated they were pursuing over 400 lines of inquiry based on the testimony of 300 potential victims. Chris Patten, the head of the BBC’s government body called it “this great tsunami of filth.” BBC’s “Newsnight” was about to broadcast an expose last December – but BBC bosses spiked it, and incredibly, aired Christmas tributes to Savile instead.

The New York Times has routinely found it implausible that a Pope, or a Republican president, or a Rupert Murdoch could ever be unaware of  grave scandals or allegations of scandals beneath them. The paper consistently telegraphs that someone so unaware of such a scandal must be the worst kind of knave or dolt. So its hiring of Mark Thompson is the height of corporate hypocrisy.

And that’s the best that can be said. What if Thompson was not unaware, as common sense dictates?


Matt Philbin and Clay Waters of the Media Research Center did some counting. Between October 14 and November 6, the Times ran just 16 stories on the BBC sex-abuse scandal, and only one ran on the front page. By contrast, in a two-month period in 2010, the Times published 64 news stories on Catholic sex abuse scandals, 13 of them on the front page. Twenty of these accusatory articles began with sentences linking Pope Benedict to the scandal with phrases like a “growing pressure to address his role” in allowing abuses.

The Times would like to think there is no one to apply “growing pressure” to them when they look askance at sexual abuse at the BBC. The BBC, in their eyes, is a global enterprise in enlightenment, while the Catholic Church is a global conspiracy of sexual repression and male chauvinism.

Our Clay Waters had more coverage from that time, including here, here, here, and here. The third link noted that Thompson trashed Sarah Palin by whining too many engage in “exaggeration and paranoia” and “admitted the BBC was biased against Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher” with the company at large holding “a massive bias to the left.” An official BBC inquiry in December 2012 treated Thompson with kid gloves, giving him a pass.

During the 2016 election cycle, Thompson wrote a column dated August 27 of that year that openly compared Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler with his voters akin to members of the Nazi Party, down to their “rhetoric” feeling similar.

Thompson appeared on CNBC five months later and insisted The Times “aim[s] to be objective and to tell people straightforwardly what’s happening” and thus there’s no liberal bias at The Times and they “want to cover America and the world objectively, independently, [and] truthfully.”

At one point, he nearly agreed with the premise that “the editorial page, the opinion pages” are slanted, but stopped himself and pivoted to arguing that, “in our news coverage, we aim to be objective and to tell people straightforwardly what's happening, so the news without bias without fear or favor”.

Given this track record, look for CNN’s far-left inmates who currently run the asylum to feel right at home and continue their heavily divisive, Trump-centric, and toxic rhetoric.